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Philadelphia

Home Depot Workers Form Independent Union

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On September 19, workers filed a petition to organize a union among 276 workers at a Home Depot in northeast Philadelphia. If successful, the independent union would be the first at the home repair chain, the fifth-largest private employer in the U.S with 500,000 employees. Vince Quiles, who’s worked at the store for five years, says the union effort gathered over 100 signatures for an election in just five weeks. At the beginning of the pandemic, Quiles was promoted to supervisor in the plumbing department. Plumbing is the highest-volume section of the store, with around 6,000 sales per day, but the company did little to prepare him. “No training, no staff,” says Quiles. “They said, ‘You’re good with people, go figure it out.’”

Philadelphia Museum of Art Workers Hold 1-Day Strike for Better Wages, Benefits

Unionized workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art began a one-day "unfair practices" strike Friday morning amid ongoing negotiations with museum leadership on their first collective bargaining agreement. The decision comes less than three weeks after AFSCME Local 397 members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike and filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that museum management engaged in union-busting practices during contract negotiations.

Housing Activists Crash Developers’ Party

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Residents of the University City Townhomes and their supporters, determined to save their homes from destruction by property developers, have taken their fight directly to the movers and shakers behind most gentrification in Philadelphia. Over 100 residents and supporters converged on the University of Pennsylvania convocation for the incoming class of 2026, Aug. 29, shouting down President Liz Magill with chants of “Housing is a human right” and “Stop Penntrification.” Protesters then used the occasion to educate students about UPenn’s racist history in the destruction of a major Black Philadelphia neighborhood.

Peace Literacy: Education For Life

Philadelphia is awash in guns: More people were shot there in 2022, hundreds fatally, than in larger cities including New York and Los Angeles.  In this “country’s poorest big city,” most shootings take place in neighborhoods shattered by multiple forms of racial discrimination and endemic poverty. The market in legal gun sales is also booming in Philadelphia, the culture of fear driving citizens to carry guns for safety.  Further complicating solutions is the disagreement between the progressive district attorney and the chief of police over models of crime enforcement in the city On the other side of our country, a miraculous alternative to the seeming nihilism of West and North Philadelphia neighborhoods breeds hope.

Residents Refuse To Be Forced From Homes Won Through Past Struggle

Forty years ago, residents of Philadelphia won a subsidized housing community in the area known as Black Bottom after fighting the discrimination and displacement being used to clear the way for University City. Now the city is allowing that community, 72 residences called University City Townhomes (UCT), to be sold for gentrification. Clearing the FOG spoke with Rasheda Alexander, a resident of UCT, and Sterling Johnson of Philadelphia Housing Action about their efforts to protect UCT and stop the wave of evictions and displacement that primarily target low income black and brown people. Their organizing and actions have not only been effective in putting pressure on city officials but have also brought the community together and inspired others to stand up for their rights. See SaveTheUCTownhomes.com for more information.

Philly Maintenance Workers, School Bus Drivers Vote To Authorize A Strike

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The union representing 2,000 Philadelphia school bus drivers and maintenance workers authorized a strike Saturday if they don’t have a new contract by the end of the month. Hundreds of representatives of 32BJ SEIU District 1201 took to North Broad Street, chanting and clapping, after members voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary. The vote does not mean a strike will definitely happen, though — union leaders will make that call. “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” the union members said. 32BJ also represents the mechanics, bus attendants, building cleaners and engineers, and trades workers who support Philadelphia’s 215 schools and 114,000 students. Union officials say the two sides are split on matters of pay, safety, and training. Negotiations resume Tuesday.

The City Has Failed University City Townhome Residents

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Monday morning’s abrupt dismantling  of the protest encampment outside of West Philly’s University City Townhomes served as another reminder that Black lives still don’t matter. For the past year, residents from the affordable housing complex near the University of Pennsylvania have been fighting back against IBID Associates, who are putting the property up for sale. They have made their demands known  — halting the sale and demolition of the homes, granting residents a two-year extension, a $500,000 financial compensation for each displaced family, and more. But for the predominately Black and brown families who’ve lived there for years, this means being displaced right into one of the most expensive housing markets in generations. While IBID is distributing housing vouchers to residents, many are claiming that the city’s ongoing gentrification crisis has made it harder for them to secure a decent alternative place to live.

Philadelphia Unions: ‘Housing Is A Human Right!’

For months, 70 Black and Brown families have organized resistance to their threatened eviction by the Altman Company in Philadelphia. When supporters and residents set up a protest tent city on July 9, Altman got a judge to order what he called “trespassers” off his “private property.” The area labor movement galvanized with a strong response, pointing out that workers have little interest in cooperating with Altman to carry out the evictions. The Philadelphia Workers Solidarity Network and the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition first put out a petition with a plea to workers and union members: “Don’t cross our picket line,” if the city attempts to tear down the encampment. (tinyurl.com/2p9fhx5y) Over 400 workers, labor activists, union locals and housing activists have signed on.

Residents Resist Millionaire Developers

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Darlene Foreman, a 60-year-old Black woman and one of the UC Townhomes tenant representatives, told the assembled press on July 11: “This is a fight for the Townhomes but not only the Townhomes.” It’s for people “all over the country who are facing displacement.” Behind her were about 50 other residents and supporters holding signs or cell phones as she continued: “I will not be displaced. . . . Me, the residents here and people all over the country are sick of it. So, if this fight takes today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the year after that, then we’re gonna be out here fighting!” In the background were about 15 tents, which were put up on the property’s green lawn after a “Protect the Block Party” July 9. Residents and housing activist supporters are taking turns staying overnight as part of the “We ain’t going nowhere” campaign, joining in the residents’ resistance.

Mumia: Unjustly Imprisoned For 40 Years

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On July 3 people in Philadelphia and dozens of other cities across the U.S. and around the globe marked the 40th anniversary of the unlawful and unjust imprisonment of Pennsylvania political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, including 29 years on death row. Now imprisoned for life in the general population, Abu-Jamal is still fighting for exoneration. In Philadelphia activists gathered at the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall. Until June 2020, a hated statue of racist former Philadelphia Mayor and police chief Frank Rizzo stood on the plaza.

Rank And File Educators At Temple Issue Statement Against Cops

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Temple University recently announced a new initiative to increase “campus security,” that is, the power of campus police and the extent to which they work with the Philadelphia Police Department. The following is a statement by Rank-and-File Temple (RAFT), the rank-and-file caucus of TAUP (AFT Local 4531). TAUP is the union for teachers, librarians, and other education workers at Temple University.  RAFT has also helped lead the struggle to disaffiliate the union national AFT from all cop unions. Temple says they want more cops for “security.” They already have the biggest, most expensive campus police force in the country. Cops are not the answer.  We say no to TUPD and all police.

School Works To Return Native Remains

Philadelphia - The School District of Philadelphia is working to repatriate Native American skeletal remains found in a high school classroom closet this summer. A letter sent to parents of Central High School students Friday said the “human skeletal item” was previously used as a teaching aid and dated back to the 1850s. The district consulted with the Department of Interior, Temple University and other experts about how to handle the remains, Evelyn Nunez, the district's chief of schools wrote in the letter to parents. “The District is also working with these partners to return this person, who has been identified as a male Native American, to his home tribe,” she said.

Hunger Stalks The United States

According to the United Nations, the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Yet this year, even in the United States, the world’s richest country, 1 in 3 American families with kids went hungry. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, official statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailed that 35 million people went hungry–10 million of them children. The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged the situation, exposing even those who felt “secure” to the possibility of going without eating. In a society where food is not a human right but a good to be purchased, how were people supposed to eat if they couldn’t work? The short answer: they didn’t. Receiving almost no help from the federal government, working people in the United States were laid off by the millions.

36 Years Ago, Police Firebombed A Neighborhood In Philly

Since the beginning of time, there has been a constant struggle between people who want to be free and those who seek to control them. It is an unending war that that rages just beneath the surface of “civilized” society, waiting to reach a boiling point where violence can erupt on the streets between police and citizens—or the oppressor and the oppressed. Since our history is passed down by those who seek to control us, this struggle is framed in a way where the oppressors are always the innocent victims, and the oppressed the senseless terrorists when in reality, the opposite is usually true. Nowhere is this situation more obvious than in the media coverage and cultural myths surrounding the American Civil Rights movement. Police would regularly raid the offices and homes of civil rights leaders, shooting first and asking questions later.

Philadelphia May Have Just Revolutionized Evictions

Philadelphia is on the verge of upending evictions as we know them. Last Wednesday, the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, which houses landlord-tenant court, released a new order following the extension of the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium through June. For the next 45 days, landlords are required to apply to PHLRentAssist, the city’s rental assistance program, and enroll in the Eviction Diversion Program before filing an eviction for nonpayment. The order is a game changer. Before the pandemic, landlords filed 20,000 evictions a year in Philadelphia’s landlord-tenant court. That’s despite the devastatingly long list of harms associated with eviction, harms that start with the court filing, a record of which is publicly accessible forever — regardless of the outcome.
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